PureCycle Technologies, based in Ohio, USA, announced 20 June that the first step towards taking PureCycle's flagship polypropylene purification facility in Ironton into full commercial operation had been successfully accomplished: the facility has now produced its first run of recycled PP resin.This run of post-industrial material allows PureCycle's manufacturing team to test the core technology concepts across various operating conditions. Once fully operational, the Ironton facility is projected to have an annual production capacity of some 48550 tonnes, or 107 million pounds, of UPR resin.
Called Ultra-Pure Recycled, or UPR, resin, the pellets are made from post-industrial recycled material -reclaimed consumer packaging and many other discarded products traditionally destined for a landfill, such as fibre found in carpet fibres, the film found in food packaging and liners, and flake found in stadium and event trash. PureCycle holds a global license for the patented solvent-driven purification recycling technology developed by The Procter & Gamble Company, in which the waste polypropylene is dissolved into the solvent and then processed to remove colours, odours and other impurities. At the heart of the process are the two well-known concepts of extraction and filtration.
The waste PP is melted down in the polymer extruder and is then transferred to the filter, where large contaminants and large non-melt materials are filtered out. It is then mixed with the solvent, undergoing further processing during which the PP is extracted and purified, with the solvent being removed for reuse, until it is ready to be fed into the extruder, where it is compounded into new pellets.
One great advantage of the process is the fact that it can purify waste PP in all the different shapes, forms and sizes this occurs, however contaminated. Moreover, this UPR resin is easily colourable and 100% recyclable. The production process is projected to use 79% less energy than the production of virgin PP resin, while releasing an estimated 35% fewer carbon emissions than new PP manufacturing.
Calling this first run a ‘momentous achievement for all of the stakeholders that believed in us’, CEO Dustin Olson said that with this major milestone complete, PureCycle has ‘demonstrated that the fundamental technology works as expected, and at scale’.
“This is another important step in our mission towards helping to solve the plastic waste crisis. We will now build upon this accomplishment to optimise our process in order to demonstrate our technology across a variety of operating conditions and feedstocks,” he declared.
Documentation of the milestone will be submitted to the site's independent construction monitor for formal certification of completion. The certification is required to achieve a key milestone in connection with PureCycle's Ironton financing.